Saturday, 23 February 2008

Tracking The Election Campaign Trail 7

For the past few days, the mainstream media have been bombarding readers with who will stand, where they will stand and how they will stand. This time around several new faces have been named by various political parties including sons and daughters of retired politicians and ministers. Significantly, the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) pesident, Samy Vellu has announced that this will be his last general election; the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) president, Ong Ka Ting also announced that this will be his last. Also shocking (to MCA members anyway) was MCA Deputy President, Chan Kong Choy's announcement that he would not seek re-election. To the man in the street however, who stand, who are replaced, where they would stand are not earth-shaking events. He is more concerned with issues that would directly affect his livelihood and well-being. What are these issues he is concerned about? Will the coalition party, the Barisan Nasional be able to address these issues satisfactorily?
  • Inflation and fewer business opportunities. He is worried about the next round of inflation after the general election. Particularly worrying is the petrol and diesel price hikes which would translate into higher cost of living and doing business.
  • The rising crime rate. The police are perceived to be neglecting their duty in ensuring the safety of the people. Streets are not safe for children and adults anymore.
  • Religious issues and the perceived Islamization of the country. Many fear the encroachment of Shariah laws into the secular judiciary of the country.
  • Corruption. There has been so many high profile cases of mismanagement of government funds and the alleged collusion between bureaucrats and politically well-connected businesses to reap huge profits from government projects at the expense of the people.
  • Marginalization in employment and business opportunities. Small non-Malay businesses and companies have been shut out of government contracts as these are reserved for the bumiputras. The public sector has also become overwhelmingly mono-ethnic.
  • Mother-tongue education. Many vernacular schools have experienced an explosion of enrolment and they are bursting at the seams to provide more places, particularly in urban centres. These schools have also suffered from an acute shortage of teachers and the government's attempt to rectify the situation has been seen to be lukewarm.
  • A tainted judiciary, as exposed in the Lingam tape enquiry.
  • The Malays on the other hand feel that their special rights and Islam have been threatened. They would like to see that Malaysia is officially declared as an Islamic state and their special rights cannot be discussed or negotiated. Read the Muslim Non-government Organizations' Election Demands.

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